In the last year, GW sent the men’s basketball team to the NCAA tournament, launched a $1 billion fundraising campaign and welcomed Stephen Colbert and President Barack Obama to campus during finals week. And in D.C., the city voted for a new mayor and to legalize marijuana.
Here’s a look at what we think is sure to make headlines in 2015:
1. Now hiring
GW always seems to be hiring, and 2015 doesn’t look to be any different. Officials are searching for leaders of two schools – the Elliott School of International Affairs and the School of Nursing – after their deans stepped down in the fall.
Mary Jean Schumann, the interim senior associate dean of academic affairs in the nursing school, will take over Jan. 1 until a permanent leader is picked and replaces former dean Jean Johnson. Provost Steven Lerman said in December that the search for the new dean is wrapping up, though the search committee has kept details quiet since it formed last year.
Dean Michael Brown will step down from his position this spring after leading the Elliott School for a decade. He is the last dean appointed by former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg.
The University is also searching for someone to spearhead its $1 billion fundraising campaign after former Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Mike Morsberger left at the end of October.
2. Open for business
GW students will get to spend time in some brand new spaces in 2015.
The Colonial Health Center will open on campus Jan. 5 after students pushed to bring health services closer to where they live and study. The space will bring Student Health Service and the University Counseling Center to the Marvin Center and link them with the Center for Alcohol and other Drug Education.
On a sweeter note, student favorite Captain Cookie will set up shop at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave., filling the void left by ice cream parlor Cone E. Island, which closed last spring.
3. Classes in the most expensive academic building on campus
The $275 million Science and Engineering Hall, the crown jewel of GW’s construction blitz, will open for classes and research in January.
That opening hasn’t come easy for GW. Officials revamped their plan to pay for the building in November after acknowledging for the first time that the original payment scheme would not work.
GW will count on rent from high-end commercial properties at The Avenue to make up about $250 million, after officials weren’t able to fundraise enough money to cover construction costs.
The building will also have a tenant who’s no stranger to GW: Celebrity chef José Andrés will use retail space on the ground floor for a veggie-based eatery called “Beefsteak.” Andrés headlined University-wide Commencement in May 2014.
4. Campus security updates
There could be a lot in store for the University Police Department over the next year. Officials are looking for a police chief after the department’s former leader, Kevin Hay, retired suddenly last semester.
UPD is up for an accreditation review and could lose its high marks if accreditors are concerned about three complaints filed against the department since March for gender-based, racial or age-based discrimination.
Officials will also release the results of a campus climate survey in the upcoming semester, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Terri Harris Reed said at December’s Faculty Senate meeting. The anonymous survey, which was conducted last spring, asked students whether they felt safe on campus or had ever engaged in sexual misconduct.
Issuing an anonymous climate survey is one of several benchmarks that a White House task force has touted as an effective way to prevent sexual assault on college campuses.
5. Steps forward for peer counseling
A peer counseling program, one of the key areas of focus for Student Association President Nick Gumas, could move forward in 2015.
Gumas pushed for the program at a Board of Trustees meeting in October, though administrators have not yet formally committed to the idea. Details still to be decided include creating a training program for students and finding space to house the call center.